The 'traumatising' coronavirus lockdown of Melbourne's last public housing tower has ended

Public housing residents in North Melbourne are allowed outside for the first time in two weeks as coronavirus case numbers inspire cautious optimism.

Police are seen outside the Alfred Street public housing tower which remains under tight lockdown in North Melbourne, Saturday, July 11, 2020

Police are seen outside the Alfred Street public housing tower on 11 July, during the hard lockdown phase. Source: AAP

Public housing residents in North Melbourne are coming out of a two-week "hard" lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak prompted the state government to take strict measures.

The enforced shut-in of public housing residents at 33 Alfred Street since July 4 ended late Saturday night, meaning they can now leave their homes for food, medicine, exercise, study and work - like the rest of Melbourne.

However, up to one third of the tower's residents, who either have the virus or are a close contact of someone who does, will be required to remain in their units until they're cleared.

A sign at one of the public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington, Melbourne.
Source: AAP

AMSSA Youth Connect, a not-for-profit community organisation based in North Melbourne, told AAP many of the Alfred Street residents will be in great need of allied health, psychological support and new employment.

A social worker for the organisation, Adna Abdikadir, said the two-week complete lockdown had been "really upsetting and really traumatising" for many.

Victoria's ombudsman is investigating the treatment of people across the Alfred Street tower and eight other towers that were shut down for five days in July.

Repeated concerns have been raised about communication with the residents, their access to food, exercise, fresh air, medical supplies and care.

Victorian authorities are cautiously optimistic that stage three restrictions are working after Saturday's fresh case numbers were almost half that of Friday's.

There were 217 new cases on Saturday compared to 428 on Friday, prompting Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to express relief.

Three new deaths recorded on Saturday brought the state's COVID-19 death toll to 35 and the national toll to 119.

There are 2608 active cases of which 110 are in hospital, including 25 in intensive care and 18 on ventilators.

The number of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 is 405.

Aged care homes in Ballarat and Bendigo have become the latest aged care outbreaks, adding to clusters at multiple aged care facilities in Melbourne.

The outbreak at Truganina's Al-Taqwa College is at 164 cases while there are 33 cases linked to Brooklyn's JBS abattoir.

An inquiry into Victoria's bungled hotel quarantine scheme will start on Monday led by retired judge Jennifer Coate.

The inquiry was instigated by Premier Daniel Andrews after it was revealed protocol breaches by security guards at two Melbourne hotels led to outbreaks.

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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Published 19 July 2020 at 6:56am, updated 19 July 2020 at 7:22am
Source: AAP -SBS